Narrative Feature Competition, U.S. Premiere
Clayton's stylish directorial debut stars Pullman as Rick, a recently widowed single father and a corporate player treading water as No. 2 to his twentysomething "Big Boss" (Stanford). Rick's first 10 minutes, which introduces Rick's corporate milieu, are a playground for Pullman; the typically staid actor yelps, smirks, crawls, and guffaws to giddy effect through the surreal opening. The film changes gears, however, with the introduction of a sinister headhunter (Baker), shifting its focus from zippy parody to a bleak (albeit funny) look at spiritual depravity. While always visually interesting (if sometimes underlit), Rick's ambitious script (by Daniel Handler) introduces so many ideas sex, power, grief, the rat race, and an ever-watchful Big Brother, to name a few that all get short shrift. The film's Maupassant-like ending jars somewhat it's operatically tragic in a way that rubs wrong with a film so frequently glib but it's moving nonetheless, a testament to Pullman's dramatic capacity.
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